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Middle East: Security Council fails to adopt resolution on Jerusalem

The Security Council votes on a draft resolution on Jerusalem.
UN Photo/Kim Haughton
The Security Council votes on a draft resolution on Jerusalem.

Middle East: Security Council fails to adopt resolution on Jerusalem

Peace and Security

The United Nations Security Council on Monday failed to adopt the draft resolution that reflects regret among the body's members about “recent decisions regarding the status of Jerusalem,” with a negative vote by the United States.

The text, tabled by Egypt, reiterated the United Nations' position on Jerusalem and would have affirmed “that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.”

The text would also have called on all States “to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem.”

A negative vote – or veto – from one of the Council's five permanent members – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States – blocks passage of a resolution.

Therefore, the draft was rejected despite support from the other four permanent members and from the 10 non-permanent members.

The vote followed a briefing by Nickolay Mladenov, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace process, who said that the Israel-Palestinian conflict has not seen significant positive moves towards peace during the reporting period from 20 September to 18 December.

He said that the security situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory has become more tense in the wake of US President Donald Trump's decision on 6 December to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, citing an increase in incidents, notably rockets fired from Gaza and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces.

Uncertainty about future of peace process looms over situation on the ground

“None of the developments on the ground can be divorced from the broader context in which they are happening: uncertainties about the future of the peace process; unilateral actions that undermine the two-state solution; occupation; and violence,” Mr. Mladenov told the Council.

The Special Coordinator's briefing mainly focused on the status of implementation of Security Council resolution 2334, which was adopted in December 2016 by 14 votes, with the US abstaining.

In that text, the Council reaffirmed that Israel's establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the vision of two States living side-by-side in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders.

It underlined that it would not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including the status of Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the two sides through negotiations.

“The United Nations maintains the view that Jerusalem is a final status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties on the basis of the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions taking into account the legitimate concerns of both the Palestinian and the Israeli sides,” Mr. Mladenov stressed, warning that there is a growing risk that the parties may revert to more unilateral actions.

He said that since the US decision, the Palestinian leadership canceled meetings with visiting Vice-President Mike Pence, and called for the establishment of a new mechanism to achieve peace.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has also vowed to seek unilateral recognition of Palestine and to seek full membership in international organizations in the absence of a meaningful peace process, Mr. Mladenov added.

Regarding Israel's settlement activities, housing construction in occupied Palestinian territory has continued, with significantly more units advanced and approved in 2017, he said.

For instance, in East Jerusalem, the increase has been from 1,600 units in 2016 to some 3,100 in 2017.

In addition, 2017 has seen worrying legislative, judicial and administrative initiatives that aim to change the long-standing Israeli policy concerning the legal status of the West Bank and the use of private Palestinian land, Mr. Mladenov warned.